Florence Nightingale once said: “How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.” As if heeding her words, members of the Construction Employers Federation in Northern Ireland have faced the COVID-19 crisis head-on, setting aside understandable anxieties to make a valuable contribution. It’s perhaps fitting that the pioneer of modern nursing has now given her name to the new breed of hastily constructed hospitals, specialist facilities we didn’t even know that we needed a few short months ago.
Belfast City Hospital’s tower block was the first to be designated by the Department of Health as a Nightingale Hospital, a 230 bed facility designed to cope with the surge in critical coronavirus cases. Maurice Flynn & Sons Ltd was just one of many companies who rallied to the cause, working day and night to alter the interior, remodelling and segregating wards. Temporary wash down shower facilities were also constructed to help protect heroic frontline NHS staff. JP Corry, McMullan O’Donnell, Wray Engineering, KCC Architectural, CPC Contracts, GFC Flooring, Alpha Clad, Eden Decorations, Greenwood Specialist Joinery, Murdock Builders Merchants – companies of all shapes, sizes, and sectors stood up to be counted.
Fast-track projects have now become the norm for The McAvoy Group. The prominent County Tyrone firm experienced an unprecedented surge in demand for both temporary and permanent welfare facilities, with McAvoy employees completing works at the aforementioned City Hospital, Craigavon Area Hospital, Daisy Hill Hospital, and for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service. And it has not just been projects close to home.
In the second week of March, McAvoy completed a new £15m wing at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, the first floor set to become the UK’s first purpose-built ambulatory care unit, aimed at easing pressure on the emergency department. Most recently, and just three weeks after first receiving the green light, the McAvoy team once again pulled out all the stops to configure, deliver and install a Primary Care COVID-19 Centre for the Northern Health and Social Care Trust at the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine.
The project was managed by H&J Martin Ltd, with the company’s Operations Director Jim Cray steering the works from greenfield site through to fit-out of the new coronavirus assessment facility that contains 14 consulting rooms, an office, utility room, and separate exits for patients and staff. In addition to the McAvoy Group, supply chain partners included Harte and Eakin, Chambers Concrete, MacBlair, Sign-It, Northstone, and CP Hire.